This evening, I made the “pappa al pomodoro”, a simple, wonderful Italian soup that my mother used to make.  It’s made with stale bread, tomatoes, basil and vegetable broth. It was great! 

For some reason, in the U.S., I have never seen this delicious meal in any Italian restaurant. Actually, unless I go to Florence, I cannot even find it in Italy because it’s a Tuscan soup.

The soup is very easy to make, and I substitute Pomì tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes that are traditionally used. Kids love this hearty soup, and adults like it even more! It takes 30 minutes to make, and the amounts suggested in this recipe easily feed 6. If you double up the ingredients, in 30 minutes, you feed 12 or more.

Ingredients

  • If you start with dried Cannellini beans, use 400 grams dried Cannellini beans (you need to start the night before, because you need to soak the dried beans overnight before cooking them)
    • Cook the soaked dried beans for 2+ hours on low heat, along with 2 TB of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 leaves of fresh sage.
    • Purée 2/3 of the beans in a blender; this purée will be incorporated into the vegetables.
    • Reserve the remaining 13  of the cooked beans until the end of the recipe
  • 1 loaf of crusty white bread, such as a loaf of Sperlonga or Ciabatta, thinly sliced.
  • ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 bunches of black kale (Cavolo Nero), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard (Bietola), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2/3 of a cabbage  (cavolo), chopped bite-sized small pieces
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2/3 red onion, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 of a box of Pomì chopped tomatoes (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme or fresh thyme
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Sauté the garlic in ½ cup of olive oil over medium-low heat. As soon as the garlic cloves become golden, remove the cloves with a fork or a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the chopped onion and cook on low heat until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the chopped celery and thinly sliced carrot rounds and cook down until softened.
  4. Add the thyme and potatoes, cooking for 5 minutes or so.
  5. Add the cut cabbage, kale, Swiss chard – cook 10 minutes until softened, mixing well. Cover and cook for 5 -7 minutes.
  6. Add the Pomì chopped tomatoes, mix and cover.
  7. Add the cannellini bean purée to vegetables, mix and check salt. Cook for 1 hour.
  8. Add 2/3 loaf of crusty bread cut in thin slices and reserved cannellini beans (i.e., the ones you did not puree), cook 10 more minutes.
  9. Turn off, let it cool and refrigerate overnight.
  10. Reheat and serve the next day.

 

Suggested Wine Pairing

A simple Rosso di Montalcino or a Chianti pairs very well with this hearty soup.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

I like to use homemade broths for all of my soups and risotto recipes. My wife, Betti, makes the broth in our household, and she always keeps fresh or frozen broth in the kitchen. Here’s her recipe for a simple vegetable broth.

Ingredients

  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 leafs of kale (optional)
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • Salt
  • A teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 2 liters of water

How to make this recipe

  1. Coarsely chop all of the vegetables except the cherry tomatoes and the parsley.
  2. Fill a pot with 2 to 3 liters of water. Make sure you have a heavy lid for the pot.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables, salt and peppercorns, and the ½ bunch of Italian parsley to the pot.
  4. Bring to a boil.  Allow to boil vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes, then partially cover the pot with its lid and bring to a simmer.
  5. Allow the ingredients to simmer for about 2 – 3 hours, making sure that it stays close to a boil, but doesn’t actually boil anymore
  6. After cooking for 2 – 3 hours, add the cherry tomatoes and bring to a boil once again for a few minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow to cool.  Use a colander or a strainer to separate the vegetables and peppercorns from the broth.

Italiano: Ribollita

Ingredienti

  • Se inizi con i fagioli “cannellini” secchi, usa 400 grammi di fagioli cannellini secchi (devi iniziare la sera prima, perché devi metterli a bagno per una notte prima di cuocerli)
  • Cuocere i fagioli secchi in ammollo per 2+ ore a fuoco basso –finche` quando li assaggi sono cotti, insieme a 2 TB di olio d’oliva, 2 spicchi d’aglio e 2 foglie di salvia fresca.
  • Frullare 2/3 dei fagioli nel frullatore; questa purea verrà incorporata nelle verdure.
  • Riservare il restante 13 dei fagioli cotti che userai alla fine della ricetta
    • 1 pagnotta di pane bianco croccante, tipo una pagnotta di Sperlonga o Ciabatta, tagliata a fettine sottili.
    • 120 ml di olio extravergine di oliva
    • 3 mazzi di cavolo nero (Cavolo Nero), tagliati a pezzetti
    • 2 mazzi di bietole (Bietola), tagliati a pezzetti
    • 2/3 di un cavolo cappuccio (cavolo), a pezzetti di piccole dimensioni
    • 2 patate Yukon Gold (patate gialle), tagliate a fette di ½ cm di spessore
    • 2 carote, tagliate a rondelle sottili
    • 2/3 cipolla rossa, tagliata a pezzetti
    • 2 gambi di sedano, tagliati a pezzetti
    • 3 – 4 spicchi d’aglio
    • 2/3 di una scatola di polpa di pomodoro tipo Pomì schiacciati (400 grammi) o pelati fatti in casa
    • 1 cucchiaino di timo essiccato o timo fresco
    • Sale e pepe nero

Preparazione

  1. Rosolare nlll’olio d’oliva l’aglio. Non appena gli spicchi d’aglio diventano dorati, rimuoverli
  2. Aggiungere la cipolla tritata e cuocere a fuoco basso finché la cipolla non diventa translucida.
  3. Aggiungere il sedano tritato e le carote tagliate a fettine sottili e cuocere finché non si saranno ammorbidite.
  4. Aggiungere il timo e le patate, cuocendo per 5 minuti circa.
  5. Aggiungere il cavolo cappuccio, il cavolo nero e la bietola – cuocere per 10 minuti finché non si saranno ammorbiditi, mescolando bene. Coprite e cuocete per altri 5-7 minuti.
  6. Aggiungere la polpa di pomodoro Pomì, mescolare e coprire.
  7. Aggiungere la purea di fagioli cannellini alle verdure, mescolare e aggiustare di sale. Cuocere per un’ora.
  8. Aggiungere 2/3 di pagnotta di pane croccante tagliato a fettine sottili ei cannolini conservati (cioè quelli che non avete passato in purea), cuocere altri 10 minuti.
  9. Spegnere, lasciar raffreddare e conservare in frigorifero per una notte.
  10. Riscaldare e servire il giorno successive con un filo d’olio extravergine crudo.